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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - Red Heat

CULTURALLY DIVERSE

This “Action Movie Time Machine” review will conclude this here Arnold-a-thon that we've been enjoying so much lately. Enjoy!

The year is 1988. The Hubble Space Telescope is put into commission, the Stealth Bomber is unveiled and Nike says “Just do it”. Ping Pong becomes an Olympic sport and aside from playing the long lost brother of Danny DeVito in “Twins”, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes the long trek from Soviet Russia to Chicago to put an end to drug traffickers in “Red Heat”.

THE SKINNY
The film begins inside a Russian bathhouse as Captain Ivan Danko, Arnold Schwarzenegger, uses his fists to pound information out of a low lever thug. Danko and his partner have been investigating Viktor Rosta, a crime boss responsible for hundreds of deaths, rapes, thefts and in more recent months, he has been funneling cocaine into Russia.

This bathhouse scene is neat and all, but like ALL bathhouses, everyone is nude. Including Arnold, and even during the fisticuffs. I remember seeing this movie as a kid – at least this part anyhow – and I giggled like the little kid that I was.

Anyhow, this information leads to an attempt to capture Rosta which is unsuccessful and even leaves Danko's partner dead. Rosta manages to escape the country, heading to Chicago to meet with his cocaine connections, a gang known as the “Clean Heads”. The Clean Heads are a black supremest  para-military criminal organization who's goal it to be a thorn in the side of the “white man”. Selling cocaine to a Russian crime boss is in their best interests, as it will expose an entire country of white people to what could lead to debilitating addiction and other bad stuff.


 Danko receives orders to follow Rosta and apprehend him without the local police or government learning that he is even there. If his cover is blown, the snafu could result in a political black-eye for the Russian government. But for Danko, it's personal. He is only interested in catching the man who killed his partner.

It isn't long before his cover IS blown and the Chicago P.D. learn who he is and why he has come to the States. Detective Sargent Art Ridzik, Jim Belushi, and his partner are assigned to escort Danko around Chicago, and help him find and export Rosta back behind the Iron Curtain.

This doesn't work out so well for Ridzik's partner who is also killed in the line of duty – making it personal for Ridzik as well. On the up side, Danko learns that Rosta has stored his drug buying money inside a bus station locker and Danko has his key. At least, for a little while.

Now the Russian man of muscle and Chicago's finest must team-up to prevent Rosta from following through with the drug buy. This isn't so easy as the two men allow their differences to get between them, especially Ridzik. Remember, this film was released just months before the Berlin wall fell, so there are Soviet/American tensions between the characters. Most of these “tensions” turn out to be pretty entertaining and even shed light on some of our cultural and political differences.

In one of these such scenes, Ridzik and Danko interrogate a low level criminal to learn what they can about the Clean Head's involvement with Rosta. Ridzik explains that even criminals have what are called “Miranda Rights”. Danko choses to speed up this interrogation by breaking the perp.'s hand to get him to talk. I guess they do things differently in Russia.

This Miranda scene is a set-up for another in which Danko is staking out the apartment of Cat, an American wife of Rosta who is played by a young Gina Gershon. As Danko sits in his car, a neighbor comes down to bitch that Danko is parked in his space. Danko asks the man; “Do you know Miranda?”, to which the man replies “No, I've never met the bitch.”. Danko follows that up with knock-out punch. It's something that I didn't expect, but I sure wont forget.
Moving on. Danko & Ridzik learn the location of the locker and the time when Rosta will show up to get the money. They try in intercept him, but what happens is Rosta steals a Greyhound bus and makes a hasty get-away. So, naturally, Danko & Ridzik steal their own bus and destroy half of Chicago chasing after him.
  Eventually they follow Rosta gets turned around, and he and Danko play chicken, nearly missing each other. Mortally wounded, Rosta is finished off by Danko when he unloads on him. Case closed.

The film ends with Danko & Ridzik exchanging pleasantries at the airport as Danko gets ready to leave the country and return to Mother Russia. The End.

THE VERDICT
“Red Heat” is better than I remembered. It's a classic “odd couple” team-up in the same tradition as “48 Hours”. Schwarzenegger doesn't say too much, playing into the cold and calculated Soviet ideal of what a police officer should be, but he manages to use this demeanor to set up and deliver some of the funniest gags in the film. Something, I don't think, Arnold it known for. Intentionally anyhow.

The same can be said about Belushi. He is perfect as the jaded and wisecracking cop who knows how to grease the wheels in order to get his job done. But he also nails being a hard-ass.

The action is good, the story is simple and entertaining. There are several memorable supporting characters; Peter Boyle play the Zen seeking Commander of Ridzik, and a co-worker of Ridzik is played by Lawrence Fishburne during his younger Malcolm X days.

It's a shame this film is so underrated. I think this may be – at least in part – the result of it's original ad campaign. If you watch the trailer you'll see clips of Belushi joking and Schwarzenegger delivering cold broken English. What's unfortunate about this is that Belushi isn't just comedic relief, and some of what Arnold says are punchlines or set up to jokes taken out on context, but you'd never know it from the trailer.

“Red Heat” it totally worth checking out if you haven't seen it before. As a standard detective flick, it isn't as over the top as some of Schwarzenegger '80s films, which might make it less memorable. But never the less, check it out if you get a chance.

One final fun fact about “Red Heat”. The opening scenes that depict...Red Square, or where ever it's supposed to be, were actually filmed in Russia illegally. The footage had to be snuck out of the country. Seems like a lot of work for footage that isn't very important, but it makes for an interesting story.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip in the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, Semper Fi, Punk!

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!






Monday, May 25, 2015

SR Podcast (Ep. 48): Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment - Movie Commentary - May 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES


It's Monday 
Movie Night
Movie Commentary!

Police Academy 2: 
Their First Assignment

1985 / Comedy / 87 mins

We already watched the classic Police Academy. 
So now we continue this marathon with its sequel Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment.

Many movie franchises have had equality or superior sequels. Movie franchises like The Godfather, The Dark Knight, Star Wars. Police Academy 2 is not one of them. In fact its the complete opposite and is a pretty bad film with only one good take away, Zed.

So sit back with the popcorn as we try to get though by having a few laughs at the expense of this weak sequel.

























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Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

CLENCHING


Mad Max: Fury Road - Clenching

Finally, the movie event of the year that everyone should enjoy; oops, nope, "Pitch Perfect 2" came out and everyone went to go see that....oh well. Anywho, this is for everyone who actually went to go see "Mad Max: Fury Road" and this is going to be a gushing review of how awesome it is, how great it is, and how important it is to modern film not only for artistic purposes but socially as well. Full disclosure, I really like the first "Pitch Perfect" but I never expected the buzzsaw it would become with the sequel. Enough of that crap, let's go to the Max.

"Fury Road" is easy to explain on the surface; there is a tyrant who is holding all the resources from a down-trodden people in a post-apocalyptic future. Resources are stolen from tyrant who goes on the hunt for his resources across a vast wasteland. Hero who steals resources becomes unlikely allies with other people who have similar ambitions and goals. Come the end, justice prevails and evil is vanquished. Of course, just explaining "Fury Road" this way is an injustice of how great a film we have right in front of us that people will likely overlook in a crowded summer full of other action popcorn flick, girls singing, and superheroes the size of ants. Again, I'm not pooping on "Pitch Perfect" I am simply making a point here.

Tom Hardy plays the titular Mad Max, a nomad in a hostile land on the run from marauders looking to turn him into a resource for overlord, Immortan Joe and his War Boys. On the other side you have Imperator Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, in a role that will studied by scholars and film snobs alike. Furiosa is a trusted driver of Joe who takes it upon herself to take his "property" or his five wives, to a place that may or may not exist, The Green Place. Along for the ride is a wayward War Boy named Nux, played by Nicholas Hoult, who goes from the gates of Valhalla to finding his own redemption.

As holds true with the Mad Max series, the villains standout as insane despots with tons of style and a great mythic quality that deserves more fleshing out. Immortan Joe and his family, including Rictus Erectus, are a sight to behold, as well as The Bullet Farmer and The People Eater (just the names alone are worth the price of admission). The only villain that comes close personality wise is Lord Humungus from "The Road Warrior" and while the villains are villainous, there is also a certain understanding and sadness to their evil. Good and evil isn't black and white in this film, there are many shades of grey.

My one tiny little gripe, okay, two gripes, are as follows; if you are the normal moviegoer who isn't into too much critical thinking, this film might put you off. Yes, there are tons of explosions and chases, but without much dialogue, a lot of the characters and their motives aren't spelled out. The performances are nuanced, and the dialogue scarce, so when something is said it's normally important and deliberate, which might be a turn off to some people. The other gripe, and this is more of a style choice, is the blatant 3D effect used at the end of the climatic chase sequence. Like I've said time and time again, 3D is not needed in film, it adds nothing to the story, and is a gimmick that needs to go away. I almost feel like this was a studio decision that director, George Miller, had to abide by in order to get his film funding. Hopefully, since the scene is so terribly cheesy, this was Miller's middle-finger to making him put a goofy 3D image to cap off an awesomely awesome chase scene.

Speaking of chase scenes, and action, holy crap does "Fury Road" pack it in. Real stuntmen, practical cars, a low reliance of CG is what makes this film a marvel to behold. You can sense the danger behind every scene, the use of camera speed and lighting makes everything pop. It's pure old-school Ozploitation at it's finest. Miller still knows how to shoot an action scene even 30 years after "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome" and this film shows he hasn't lost a step. Needless to say, they don't make these like they used to.

While the action is amazing, the talk of this film is something you wouldn't have thought, and it's got feminists and meminists all in a tizzy; is "Fury Road" a feminist action film. Well, it has tons of strong-willed and minded females not only surviving in a wasteland, but they are also free-thinking, open-minded, and loving. It's hinted that "man" is the reason why the world has been killed, and of course men rely on women to survive. Sure, the film is called "Max Mad: Fury Road" by Max is essentially a blunt instrument which is wielded by the metal hand of Furiosa. Outside of one character, all characters portrayed by women have a purpose and something important to do throughout the film and it's great that we don't have to sit through the same old damsel in distress routine. Miller has created one of the most important characters in not only action film history, but film history, and it should be celebrated, not picked apart by the vulture of social medial looking for click bait. One of the complaints might be that the characters are underdeveloped....sure, on screen yes, but that doesn't mean they have a story to tell or history. Use some critical thinking and you can decide for yourself.

I know you might think "geez Matt, you gush over all the female characters in "Fury Road" yet you railroaded the female characters in "Pitch Perfect 2." Not really....I am making a point of noting what is obvious, and perhaps this is just an American thing. As Americans we like safe thing; fast food, fast casual food, mini-vans, and so on...we like the familiar, and we like happy. "Fury Road" is none of those things. It doesn't spoon feed you, while it's fast, it's not fast food, and it's the anti-summer blockbuster. The chases and action are simply a means to an end, a blunt instrument, similar to Max himself, to serve a higher purpose in storytelling and social studies. Similar to other films, "Fury Road" will make it's money overseas, far from the sheepish herd that is the American moviegoer. I'll make you guys a deal, sure, go and see "Pitch Perfect 2" or "Avengers: Age of Ultron" or even "Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2" but at least go and give "Fury Road" a chance. These movies are needed in a world this Mad.

Fun Fact: Hugh Keays-Byrne, who plays Immortan Joe, also played Toecutter in Miller's orignal "Mad Mad" from 1979.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 47): May 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES


In honor of Mother's Day, The Simplistic Reviews Podcast has assembled their regular team of badass motherf*%kers to ring in the month of May. They touch on Suicide Squad...they touch on the Joss Whedon haters...they touch on Tom Brady's balls...all in an effort to entertain you.  So sit back, give it a listen, and say hello to your mother for me.

6:37 Simplistic Showcase

36:53 TV Roundup

59:44 Hey F*%khead

Also as a special treat...here is an outtake that was too ridiculous not to share with the world.



Show Notes
Redrum
Ally McBeal
Andy Kaufman
Lord Humongous

Music Notes
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place By The Animals
Birds And Brass By Sort Of Soul
The Great Escape Theme By Paul Bateman



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Friday, May 8, 2015

Slaughter Film Presents: Action Movie Time Machine - The Running Man



SUBVERSIVELY ENTERTAINING

This “Action Movie Time Machine” trek will continue with the totally awesome theme of Arnold. So strap ourselves in, light up your cigars and hold onto your butts!

The year is 1987. For Broadcasting made it's debut, the Atari 7800 Game System hit store shelves, and the band Aerosmith got a badly needed boost in popularity with the re-release of their song Walk This Way featuring Run D.M.C.. The world mourned the loss of Clara Peller – the woman who couldn't help but ask, Where's the beef?”, and Arnold travels to the future to star on reality television in, “Running Man”.

THE SKINNY
“Running Man” is set in the not too distant dystopian future of 2017 Los Angeles. In this future the economy has collapsed, unemployment has skyrocketed and what's left of the government is frantically trying to maintain order among the civilian population who live in a police state.

Here we meet Ben Richards, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is a keeper of the peace. At least, that's what he thought his job was. When dispatched to quell an angry group of food protesters, he received orders to kill them on sight. Richards refused, and as a result his para-military peers killed the protesters and Richards was framed for their murder. This is the future he lives in.



Later Richards manages to escape his work camp prison with help from William Laughlin, Yaphet Kotto, and Harold Weisse, Marvin McIntyre. The three escapees meet up with the “underground resistance” -- because when you live in a dystopian future there is always an underground resistance. The resistance helps them each escape the city.

Meanwhile, Damon Killian, Richard Dawson, host of the top rates television game show “Running Man”, is made aware of Richards' escape. Familiar with his alleged murderous tendencies, Killian wants Richards, and his prison friends, captured to be used as a contestant on his show.

So, what exactly is “Running Man”? This show selects convicted criminals to participate in a gladiatorial adventure in which they must survive in a “Hunger Games” like arena with trained killers who are stalking them. If the contestants survive, their criminal record is erased and they go free. If they are caught by the “Stalkers”, they die. All of which is being broadcast live for the entertainment of the home viewers.

The television executives work hand in hand with the Entertainment Division of the Justice Department. The show entertains the masses while making examples of the lawless – encouraging them all to fall in line with the demands of the ever powerful and ruthless government. To avoid protests and civil unrest, there is “Running Man”. This is a shared idea between this film and the 1975 “Roller Ball”.


Now we have Richards, with Laughlin and Weisse, traversing the city in their skin tight runner get-ups doing their best to survive. While Richards and Laughlin fight off Stalker attacks, Weisse sets out to learn the up-link codes to the television network's satellites. With the right codes, the resistance can override the network signal and communicate with the “Running Man” audience. With these codes they broadcast the truth about Richards and how he wasn't responsible for the deaths of 1,500 protesters and also how the Killian is a puppeteer – controlling and manipulating information to in turn, control and manipulate his audience.

But first, Richards murders the Stalkers and wins over the viewing public as he does it. The rest of the film is good, but this is why we watch it. First there is Sub Zero, played by former professional wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka. Sub Zero is a hockey player from hell who wields a bladed hockey stick. As they fight, Richards manages to use his surroundings to his advantage and strangles Sub Zero to death with barbwire. Followed by the one-liner, “Here is Sub Zero... Now...plain zero!”.



Then we have Buzzsaw & Dynamo. Buzzsaw, Gus Rethwisch, is a motorcycle riding, chainsaw swinging madman who as a child wanted to grow up and become Leather Face. Richards makes quick work of him as he overpowers Buzzsaw, turning his beloved chainsaw against his crotch – sawing him in half. Later he is asked, “What happened to Buzzsaw?”. To which he replies, “He had to split.”. One-liner gold!

Dynamo is an odd duck. He is an overweight opera singer who shoots '80s rotoscope lightning from his hands. Richards traps Dynamo when he tricks him into following him up a hill that is too steep and Dynamo's Go-Kart topples backwards, landing on him.

Finally, there is Fireball, Jim Brown – a Stalker with a flamethrower and a jet pack. The two get into the ol' fist-a-cuffs and Richards manages to sever Fireball's fuel line – leaking it everywhere. Richard's finishes him off using a flare to light him on fire while asking, “How 'bout a light?”.

Richards meets up with the underground resistance, who have been watching his progress on television. They use the codes to broadcast the truth and Richards leads them into battle with the network security and government agents.



In the end Richards gets even with Killian when he gives the people what eh thinks they want, by launching Killian into a billboard with his own face on it – blowing him up. And in the background chaos erupts as the underground resistance goes aboveground. The End.

THE VERDICT
Here we have another quintessential '80s action flick, starring Arnold. It has everything you would want. Exotic deaths, a dystopian future and one-liners galore. It also has a really good, while understated, theme that reoccurs thought the film and one of the retired Stalkers is Captain Freedom, played by Jesse Ventura. Yep, “Running Man” has not one, but two Governors.

It's right around this time when Arnold started to come into his own. His English was getting good and the films he starred in were getting better too.

“Running Man” is similar to another one of Arnold's films, “Total Recall”, in the way that the action is entertaining, but the sci-fi story is what makes it memorable. And like “Total Recall” it draws parallels between it's story and real life. “Running Man” predicted reality television, including shows like “The Real World”, “Survivor”, and especially “Fear Factor”.

But what's really interesting about the film is the way Killian manipulates the facts to sell his viewers  his brand of truth. It gets it's viewers to ask themselves, can we truth the news we are fed and the authority that feeds it? This is more important now in the post September 11th/War on Terror era than when it was filmed. But this idea, ”Can we trust the news?”, is a question that can be asked at least once every generation.

The inspiration for the “Running Man” came from the Richard Bachman book of the same title. Bachman was a pen name used by Stephen King for a while. It's funny to think that he man who wrote “Carrie” and “Stand By Me” is also in some way responsible for this '80s Arnold action flick.



In conclusion, if you haven't seen “Running Man”, you are a fool. It's a classic. For more action packed “Running Man” goodness, check out the Slaughter Film podcast focused on “Futuristic Gladiator” films. We discussed both “Running Man” and “Roller Ball” starring James Caan.

I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip in the “Action Movie Time Machine”. Until next time, “I'LL BE BACK!”.

For more from Cory, check out his website slaughterfilm.com, where he and his good friend Forest Taylor record weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Simply TV: Marvel's Daredevil Episode Four: In the Blood (Matt's Take)

SMASHING
In the Blood -Smashing

This is where the proverbial "rubber hits the road." The fourth episode of "Daredevil" has the perfect amount of violence, and storytelling, that will likely pave the way for the rest of this first season (since this article has been written, a second season has already been order by Netflix).

"In the Blood" starts with a flashback of both Anatoly and Vladamir in a Ukrainian gulag five years prior to them arriving in Hell's Kitchen and leading the Russian Mob and now running into the issue of the "man in the mask."

Wesley arrives with a proposition for the brothers that will involve the help of Wilson Fisk. Speaking of Fisk, after his acquisition of "Rabbit in a Snowstorm" is goes back to the gallery and officially introduces himself to the art dealer, Vanessa, and offers to take her to dinner.

Meanwhile, the Russians are on the hunt for the "man in the mask" which brings them to abducting Claire and  questioning her for his whereabouts. Needless to say, Matt comes to Claire's rescue and their relationship continues to blossom where she finally learns Matt isn't Mike, but he's Matthew.

On the other side of town, Karen wants been to become more involved in the United Allied liquidation, and Ben explains the dangers involved. While initially, skeptical, Ben accepts Karen's proposal and begins digging a little deeper.

After the latest attack, Anatoly decides it's time to go to Fisk for help, which angers Vladamir, but nonetheless accepts. The one mistake Anatoly makes is that you never interrupt Fisk while he's at dinner....

These are just general brush strokes for an episode that unearths some interesting development, mainly about Fisk and how he views his relationships and business and how the two should never meet, and Anatoly can attest to that. "In the Blood" is our first real look into what we can expect from Fisk the rest of the season, and maybe even into the MCU if possible. Vincent D'Onofrio is calculated in every line he speaks and gives Fisk a sophisticated, but chilling, appeal. He's put together well and while he speaks with authority, he also speaks with a sense of guilt and aloofness. He's a worldly person, but at the same time afraid of the unknown and is incredibly protective of the city he lives in. While both the Claire and Matt and Foggy and Karen relationships will anchor this show, its likely the duo of Vanessa and Wilson that will have the widest and was interesting consequences in not only this show, but the future as well.

There weren't as many Easter eggs in this episode, but the one that really stood out was Wesley's comment about "men in iron suits or magic hammers." It's small, but it just goes to show you the care that has been taken with this universe.

The biggest takeaway, however, in this episode, at least for me, was the increased violence. There has been an increase in violence from the first two episodes to episode three and four, including two specific scenes; One, the attack on Claire, which hid most of the onscreen violence and swapped it with the aftermath. But it asks the question if this is going to be a trend on this show, starting with the attack on Karen in episode one, and continuing on from there. I understand that the "Damsel in Distress" plot device works, but I'd also like to see stronger female characters on this show, and there are glimpses in Karen and Claire, so hopefully that continues.

This brings me to the car door scene, which I won't spoil per say, but I will say it's one of the most violent scenes you'll see in a Marvel property up to this point, and with that being said, it's also an important scene, not only from a character trait that we see in Wilson Fisk, but from a Marvel standpoint its a flashpoint that is show the audience that they are willing to go to those dark places and they are will to possible take chances on more violent comic properties, namely The Punisher.

While episode three let it's foot off the gas a bit, you can see the series starting to ramp up with a ton of machinations put into place; what will the Russians do now? What will happen with Fisk? Where will Matt and Claire's relationship go? All this, and much more, on next week's "Marvel's Daredevil."

Fun Fact: Back in 1987, Vincent D'Onofrio played Thor! In "Adventures in Babysitting."   

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